Turkish Protests Rattle Erdogan’s Female Loyalists


By Sisi Tang

WeNews correspondent

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Turkey‘s anti-government protests are troubling for some of Erdogan’s female supporters, who dominate his voting base. For other women, the protests are an outlet for anger at current policies and a break from the political repression that followed the 1970s mass unrest.

Hundreds of women marched toward Taksim Square in Istanbul on June 8, 2013.
Hundreds of women marched toward Taksim Square in Istanbul on June 8, 2013.

Credit: Sisi Tang

ISTANBUL, Turkey (WOMENSENEWS)– A Reuters photo of a police officer spraying tear gas into the face of a woman in a red dress in Gezi Park in Taksim Square here has forged the impression of a strong-armed reaction by the government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan toward protests around the country that are stretching into their second week.

While Erdogan has agreed to meet today with three protest leaders, many expect the demonstrations to escalate after police entered Gezi Park Tuesday, flinging gas canisters and shooting rubber bullets at demonstrators, despite the Istanbul governor’s promise earlier that the park will not be touched. People continued filing into Taksim Square, which was bellowing with tear gas smoke and reeling from sound bombs as of Tuesday night.

Last weekend, Kalbiye Uzuner, a middle-aged housewife, was among those walking toward Taksim, joining the crowd’s chants calling for the government to resign.

“This is the first time I’ve participated in something this big,” she told Women’s eNews. “Even if the P.M. [prime minister] doesn’t give into our demands, I think we have still won because we have gathered here such a variety of people.”

In the backstreets, older women jutted their arms out of their windows, banging pots and pans and offering the young protesters passing by lemon and vinegar, which they hoped would soothe the bite of tear gas.

These indications of waning support among women concern Erdogan’s loyal female followers.

Eda Yilmaz, a young supporter of Erdogan’s ruling AKP party, has not yet joined the demonstrations. But she said she was incensed by the Reuters image and felt an instant desire to join those in Taksim Square.

“The police violence needs to be investigated,” said Yilmaz, an entrepreneur and industrial engineer, in an interview over the weekend. “It shouldn’t necessarily be about the government stepping down, but about it correcting and checking its mistakes.”

According to a student protestor’s personal account that has been circulated online by his professor, a police officer repeatedly beat a woman inside a police detention vehicle while threatening to rape her and forcing her to shout praises to the police.

Though both men and women have been subject to police violence, videos and interviews showing female protestors in the Aegean metropolis of Izmir being beaten by a dozen or more police have spread like wildfire on the Web and inflamed the public.

A Hovering Question

Will it end with long-lasting political change of any sort?

That’s the question hovering over layers of barbecue smoke, smoldering tear gas, spewing water cannons and the red flags of the Republic and its founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.

The answer depends, in part, on Turkish female voters such as Yilmaz. Women were 54 percent of those who voted for the AKP during the 2011 general elections, according to an AKP-led survey.

The AKP, a party with Islamic roots, has presided over a phase of economic growth but faces challenges sustaining gains on the heels of the global economic slowdown.

There is no sign yet that the prime minister’s response to the Gezi Park protests is costing him female voters. But while his administration can count on female supporters who see his hard-edged ways as a strong, avuncular backing of their religious sentiments, some of those are now seeing his style as edging on authoritarian.

“I’ve always thought his talking style was very problematic,” said Yilmaz. “You can’t just order people that you can’t do this, you can’t do that. You should have referendums, communicate with the people.”

Erdogan’s female supporters include young, middle-class, well-educated, cosmopolitan and observant women who share the liberal values being voiced by the demonstrations.

At the same time, they are loyal to the AKP for assisting their religious freedoms, with a prime example being the lifting of the ban on headscarves in universities.

“Compared to older times, I think there have been many improvements in the last decade, especially in economic development and with resolving the headscarf issue,” said Neslihan Ozdemir, 31, an AKP supporter and housewife who said she did not attend what she saw as an overly politicized conflict that has spiraled into deliberate provocation. “This issue is very important for me: freedom to wear what you want.”

Lingering Fears

In the broader population of women, beyond Erdogan’s supporters, some older women have avoided street protests–and made their concerns known to their children–out of health concerns about tear gas and fears left from the bloody, political clashes of the 1970s, which killed many civilians and culminated in the 1980 military coup that installed military rule for the next few years.

“My family for instance would not allow me to even attend the smallest demonstrations. Everyone is extremely afraid. People have seen torture,” said a 21-year-old law student at Marmara University who asked that her name not be published for fear of backlash. Yet, she has participated in the demonstrations since day one.

Turkey is often analyzed through the polarizing lens of political and religious differences. But these demonstrations, which have swelled up from a small environmentalist protest of plans to raze the leafy Gezi Park in Taksim Square, have become a chance for citizens to share an array of grievances.

For many Turkish women, Erdogan’s public condemnation last year of elective Cesarean births and abortion struck a nerve. So did a draft policy to ban abortion from which he later backed away.

In a recent public speech, he also drew ire for reprimanding a couple for kissing on a public metro.

“In the very beginning I took to the streets because of the abortion issue,” said the university student who requested anonymity. “It was about women’s demands and ownership of their own bodies. We felt that we have been excluded, so in order to be included within, we came to express ourselves.”

Hundreds of elderly and young women marched through Taksim this weekend, uniformly chanting, “Tayyip, flee, flee, the women are coming,” bearing signs that read “We are on the streets for a life without Tayyip, without harassment,” and “Tayyip, keep your hands away from my body.”

‘Much More Oppression’

“Especially during the period when AKP has been in power, there has been much more oppression and violence against women,” said Gunay Demirbas Nas, a coordinator at Imece Kadin Sendikasi, a women’s collective based in Istanbul. “Murder of women has been on the rise.”

She added that she was also angered by the recent merging of the Ministry for Women and Family with theMinistry of Family and Social Policies.

Protestors have called on Erdogan to “stop acting as if he is everyone’s father.” Many perceive him to be an obstinate, authoritarian patriarch prone to meddling in female citizens’ personal affairs.

He has repeatedly advised families to have at least three children, a gesture which his conservative-leaning supporters see as a reasonable economic measure that would also reinforce family values. Opponents, however, suspect an agenda to reinstate religious law, hamper women’s freedom and threaten the nation’s secularist foundations.

“This state does what it wants to do, even with issues related to women’s bodies,” said Rojda Tekin, aspokesperson for the Anti-Capitalist Muslims youth group, based in Istanbul with liaisons all over Turkey.

The Anti-Capitalist Muslims are a group of pious, anti-AKP youths who decry the ruling government for what they see as capitalist policies serving mainly the rich, preferring what they say is a middle way between Islam and socialism.

Headscarved, Tekin huddled with members of her group among the sea of tents and banners displayed at Gezi Park to protest its demolition.

“With women’s rights there are some serious issues. But at least Turkey isn’t a state that directly oppresses women. We can go out and do as we please. Everything that belongs to God also belongs to the civilians, whether it’s women’s rights or other issues,” she said.

Sisi Tang is a writer and traveler based in Istanbul, Turkey.

 

Press Release- TAKSIM SOLIDARITY


Disclaimer and Disclosure to the Statement of Deputy PM Bülent Arınç:

After the meeting of the Council of Ministers on June 10th, the Government Spokesperson and the Vice Prime Minister Bülent Arınç stated that “There will be a meeting with a committee”. We hereby inform the public that the explanation given by the Bülent Arınç has nothing to do with the Solidarity and there is no demand by the Taksim Solidarity for a “meeting” with the council.

11 June 2013 Press Release

11 June 2013

On the 14th day of the Gezi Park protests, resisters are responded once again with riot control vehicles and tear gas!

The only difference between the police raid which happened 10 days ago at 5 am and today’s raid is the timing. Today, the police intervention started at 7 am in Taksim for a change; however, there are already tens of injured people and a police blockage causing public worry.

One can speak neither of democracy nor of dialogue when there is a blockage.There is not a single response to the demands of Taksim Solidarity, which are the shared wishes of the citizens; however, they hope that dividing the park-savers and the marginal
groups among those, who stand shoulder to shoulder for any kind of solidarity in Gezi Park, would help. Nobody should think that such a division among people who protect their park and living space would be helpful. We are going to stay together, and build our legitimate and righteous demands with solidarity.

As TAKSIM SOLIDARITY, we represent the feelings and the demands of millions of citizens who have been struggling to create public awareness against the project that would concretize Gezi Park, who lied in front of engineering vehicles to stop them, who were exposed to excessive police violence, who regarded the police violence against those who supported the park day and night and their living spaces as if it was against their own; and we announce once again that we will never let anybody scandalise our struggle in one way or another!

As it is kept abreast by the public, the committee of Taksim Solidarity has held a meeting with the Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç and submitted their demands to the government in this meeting. Although no account has been given considering these demands by the government, attempting to hold a meeting with another committee, the formation of which is unclear to the public, is not an effort to create a sincere process of dialogue but an effort towards misguiding the public and towards weakening the roots of the righteous and legitimate demands of millions of people from all over the country. Today’s police intervention is a proof of government’s intention and attitude towards its own people.

Demands are clear. The addressee is obvious: Taksim Solidarity.

AKP government tries to create a polarization among public by holding alternative meetings, threatens its own citizens and rejects the demands of hundreds of thousands of people who in 77 cities of the country, primarily in Kızılay (Ankara), cries out their wishes in the streets, people who dance, sing and read poems to express their demands in Gezi Park and in squares; people among whom are women, children, LGBT’s, workers, religious people and non-believers.

We are worried about this government. We want to announce to the public that they, who have no legitimate policy except building concrete barracks against a park, except police violence and alternative meetings against demand for peace in the society, do nothing but a sin.

We want to repeat once again: stop using police violence against people who protect their living space and the park. Release those who are under custody. Relieve those who are responsible for two-week long police violence of duty; announce that our first and foremost demand will be realised, and announce officially that NOT A SINGLE SQUAREMETRE OF GEZI PARK WILL BECOME CONCRETE AND GEZI PARK WILL REMAIN AS A PARK!

The legitimacy of our demands cannot be denied either by the bill of human rights, or by universal law; these demands are supported all over the country and the world; and we insist on guarding our demands! We will be here until a concrete step is taken to realise the demands of the young people who protect Taksim and Gezi Park, of the women who gather in squares, of those who watched the Park day and night without sleeping or who supported the protesters with their heart at their homes, in other words, to meet the demands of the people and bring peace among the citizens.

We will be protecting our park and our squares with a great solidarity with our citizens until our demands are taken seriously and a concrete step is taken.

We are waiting for all those who protect Gezi at 19.00 in Taksim.

We are here, we are going nowhere.

TAKSIM SOLIDARITY

http://taksimsolidarity.org/

 

Urgent call to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in solidarity with Istanbul


June 11th 2013

A photo of a 13-year old child injured in the police attack on the protest.

 

This is an urgent call to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) from Istanbul

Valuable members of the IOC;

This is an urgent call from Istanbulites, from all ages, social and political backgrounds, associations, ideologies and beliefs. This is a call from Urban Movements Istanbul / Habitat International Network together with People’s Houses on behalf the citizens of Istanbul whose right to life has been threatened by a government determined to crush a peaceful resistance against the demolishment of a public park ( Gezi Park) by means of unproportional use of force through excessive utilization of tear gas and pepper gas bombs over limits, the use of plastic bullets and more over the deliberate use of canisters as bullets to target and hit armless people.

Up to now the police has intervened and used brutal force 4 times in Taksim against peaceful demonstrators; the last one taking place this morning. There are 3 deaths and after this morning’s violent attack, we are afraid that there may be more losses. The resistance has spread to the other cities and there are nearly 10,000 people injured throughout Turkey, 23 of which fatal. The right to peaceful assembly and to demonstration, the right to expression, to freedom of opinion and to life have been and is being (at the moment as well) grossly violated by the government.

Valuable members of the IOC, the ideals of Olympic Games rest on friendship, peace, democratic values and freedoms. We are sending you just 3 of the hundreds of  videos documenting the unproportional use of force by the police; these are material evidences of the brutality and are more than enough proof of how the government violates  the ideals of Olympics.
http://alkislarlayasiyorum.com/icerik/126067/yabanci-medyadan-gezi-parki-belgeseli-istanbul-rising

this morning http://www.aljazeera.com/news/europe/2013/06/201361111245916696.html
https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10151523695173492&set=vb.142140739308470&type=2&theater (ankara 10-11 june midnight)

Having Istanbul on the list of applicants will be tantamount to pepper gasing these ideals.

Having Istanbul on the list will mean bombing these ideals.

Keeping Istanbul on the list disgraces Olympic ideals.

 

 

We, as Istanbulites whose lives are under threat, request the IOC to take Istanbul out of the list of cities for Olympics 2020 in order to reclaim the honour of Olympic ideals.

On behalf of                                                                        On behalf of

Urban Movements Istanbul / HIC Network                 People’s Houses

Cihan Uzunçarşılı Baysal                                                    Çiğdem Çidamlı

 

Supporting Signatories

KALYANİ MENON-SEN  (INDIA)

KAMAYANI BALI MAHABAL (INDIA )

 

 

 

Archives

Kractivism-Gonaimate Videos

Protest to Arrest

Faking Democracy- Free Irom Sharmila Now

Faking Democracy- Repression Anti- Nuke activists

JAPA- MUSICAL ACTIVISM

Kamayaninumerouno – Youtube Channel

UID-UNIQUE ?

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 6,231 other followers

Top Rated

Blog Stats

  • 1,802,001 hits

Archives

August 2020
M T W T F S S
 12
3456789
10111213141516
17181920212223
24252627282930
31  
%d bloggers like this: